General Tips

Smoking and littering

Smoking in public places including pubs, bars and restaurants is forbidden in Edinburgh and the whole of Scotland since 2006. If one is in need of a puff, they have to go outside. Most places have a designated smoking area with a big ash tray usually attached to the building. Make sure you don’t throw cigarette butts on the ground as littering is a criminal offence in Scotland and if caught you can be fined £50! If unpaid the fine will gradually increase.

Queues, doors and politeness

Queuing is a social convention and people automatically form queues whenever they have to wait for anything. Jumping a queue is considered extremely rude as well as is not holding the door for a person behind you. Being done any sort of favour, such as keeping the door open, should be acknowledged by a polite "thank you".

Tipping in restaurants and bars

Tipping in Edinburgh's restaurants is a form of reflecting the quality of service received; therefore, it is not obligatory but is welcomed, especially if the service has been exceptional. A tip of 10% of the bill is the norm but more can be left if one feels the service exceeded their expectations. Tipping in bars and pubs is not common unless the bar tender has provided exceptional service.

It is customary to tip taxi drivers.

Age restrictions

Drinking in Scotland is allowed from the age of 18, however, some bars and clubs have a policy allowing in only over 21s. The same "over 21" rule applies in most car rental places, even though, the legal age for driving is 17. The legal age of consent is 16.


Although the UK is part of the European Union, it has kept its own currency rather than switching to the Euro. The currency is pound sterling , commonly known as simply the pound. VAT, the tax on produce is currently at 20%, and is almost always included in the displayed price. Tipping is optional, but 10% is common in restaurants and taxi.

ATMs are commonplace around Edinburgh and the Lothians and most businesses accept credit and debit cards with Chip and Pin verification. Banks tend to open from 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am until lunchtime on Saturdays.


Edinburgh observes Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in the winter and British Summer Time (GMT+1) in the summer. Clocks go forward one hour on the last Sunday in March and go back one hour on the last Sunday in October.


The international dialing code for the UK is +44


UK electricity runs on a 3-pin 230V system. Therefore electrical appliances from the continent will require an adaptor.

Emergency Services

In an emergency, when you require either the police, fire brigade, coast guard or an ambulance, then call 999 for assistance.


Accident and emergency facilities can be found at the Royal Infirmary, St Johns in Livingston (West Lothian) and, for children under 12, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. A minor injuries unit can be found at the Western General, open everyday from 9am until 9pm. Contact details for those hospitals are included below. In an emergency, phone 999 for medical assistance.

Royal Infirmary
51 Little France Crescent
Old Dalkeith Road
EH16 4SA
T: 0131 536 1000

Western General Hospital
Crewe Road South
T: 0131 537 1000

St Johns Hospital at Howden
Howden Road West
West Lothian
EH54 6PP
T: 01506 523000